An elderly Sikh man was brutally beaten outside a gurudwara in Fresno, California on Sunday in a possible case of hate crime. The alleged assailant has been arrested.
Piara Singh, 81, was beaten outside the Nanaksar Sikh Temple, where he worked as a volunteer. The assailant Gilbert Garcia, 29, hit him with an iron bar from behind when Singh was leaving for home. He is being treated at a local hospital for head wounds, and broken bones and ribs. “He’s doing much better,” said a relative Charanjit Sihota.
The Sikh community in Washington has been the target of hate crimes after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. There have been 700 such cases since then, according to one count.
A white supremacist gunned down six Sikh worshippers at a gurudwara in Oak Creek in Wisconsin state last August. The killer died after the shooting of self-inflicted wounds.
The community has long been demanding that these incidents be treated as hate crimes for the purpose of data collection and focussed investigation and tracking.
California, a state with a large population of Sikhs, has seen rising incidence of such crimes. Two Sikh men were killed in Sacramento in March 2011. No one has been arrested yet.